Category Archives: Shrubs

Ladybug Summer

Today I was so excited to find ladybug larvae on my roses.  I was making the usual weekly rounds, dead-heading, checking things out, snipping out leaves with black spot and scouting for aphids.  Normally when I find a cluster of aphids I strip them off the leaves with my fingers (yes, I wear gloves).  Today as I was brushing them off I noticed a few ladybugs nearby.  And then I noticed there were still a few insects tenaciously hanging onto the stem, but they weren’t aphids.  Upon closer inspection I discovered they were the larvae of ladybugs, little aphid-munching machines. I was thrilled that beneficial insects were hard at work in my garden. I was also glad that I hadn’t sprayed any chemicals, not even Neem oil, onto the roses. The circle of life, happening in my yard! When people don’t have a lot of time it’s just easier to get a bottle of something and spray the roses when insects appear.  But if you really love your plants, you have to take a close look at them.  Spend time with them. Give them an afternoon.  That’s when you see what’s happening in the garden.

 

A Promising Winter


January begins with fireworks and resolutions.  The first day is bright and promising, but by mid-month we grow tired of the gloom, the ice and those dark after-dinner dog walks.  Have you ever tried to pick up poop in the pitch black nothingness? It’s tricky.  But a walk through the school arboretum reveals wonderful textures and surprising colors.  It reminds me that the plants keep growing.  Some of them even put on their best show without the distraction of lush green foliage.  The textures and lines are distinctive and startling.  I love the little seed balls that hang merrily from the Dove tree, like decorative ornaments left over from Christmas time.  I admire the twists and turns of the contorted filbert, snaking it’s way around like a puzzle.  I adore the evergreen Salal, our Northwest sturdy native with it’s prizewinning green.  And the witchazel  and Dawn Viburnum give me the promise of Spring.  January does have it’s moments.

 

 

Salal

 

Look at this beautiful plant.  Look at the green leathery leaves. Look at the soft fuzzy new growth.  Look at the fine bristly hairs, look at the petite urn-shaped flowers.  Look at those drooping little bells of white and pink. Look at this contrast of tender and tough.  Look at the smooth curve of the leaf and straight line of the stem.  Know this plant, one of the most common plants in the Pacific Northwest.  In the understory of our native forests.  Along roadways and sidewalks and very likely in your backyard if you live here.  Salal, or Gaultheria shallon, is a favorite of mine.  I noticed it today on Mother’s Day when my son gave me a lovely vase of flowers.  ‘Which one do you like best?’ he asked.  I immediately touched the Salal, in the center of the vase, and said ‘this one.’  Past the daisies and lilies I saw the Salal.  It’s used widely in the floral industry, but most people don’t even notice it.  It’s all over the West coast of Washington and some people don’t even know it’s name.  Perhaps they have never been properly introduced to this member of the Ericaceae, or heather,  family.  Well, it’s in full bloom now and bursting with energy as it sends out new shoots and leaves and flowers.  I saw this one last week at the Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island, a magical place.  I like it best in the Spring when the new leaves are smooth, light green and perfect.  With age they become tough and can show signs of pests and disease.  In late summer the dark blue berries replace the flowers and are eaten by wildlife and humans.  Some day I want to make Salal jam.  Next time you take a walk through a NW forest, appreciate the Salal, often overlooked, but making our part of Washington evergreen.

Just the Facts
Gaultheria shallon    Salal
Height Variable with conditions 2′ to 10′ tall
Creeping to erect, spreads by layering, suckering and sprouting
Hairy branched stems
Leaves alternate, evergreen and leathery, finely toothed
Flowers white to pinkish, urn-shaped, 5-15 at branch ends
Fruits reddish blue to dark purple, edible
Favorite quote from Plants of the Pacific Northwest by Pojar and Mackinnon “You can make a tiny drinking cup by shaping a salal leaf into a cone.”

 

Azara

I wouldn’t have noticed this tree unless I saw the sign right in front of it.  Most signs aren’t very interesting but when they’re in front of plants I stop and read them.  This one stated that when in flower, Azara smells like milk chocolate. What?! A chocolate plant? Yum….I immediately stepped into the under story of this suddenly fascinating plant and was surrounded by the warm delightful smell of chocolate.  It was 7:30 in the morning on a brisk March day and I was experiencing the unexpected. What a surprise to catch the scent of chocolate coming from a plant instead of from the kitchen.  What a strange and sweet species.  Azara is named after an eighteenth century Spanish patron of botany, JN Azara.  It comprises a genus of 10 species of evergreen shrubs and trees from South America. The azara tree usually grows on the edge of woodlands and near lakesides.  The leaves are simple, alternate  and glossy and the fragrant flowers are small and petalless with showy stamens. Azara microphylla is one of the hardiest species for our region and was introduced from Argentina to Europe in 1861.  It’s a favorite to those with limited space, only growing 3-12′ tall.  It’s described as having ‘vanilla’ scented yellow spring flowers.  Vanilla or chocolate?  Maybe it’s somewhere in the middle of our imagination.  Either way, it’s a great addition to the scented garden.

 

3 Trees—New Varieties for 2015

Variegated Stellar Pink Dogwood (Cornus kousa x Cornus florida)  I’ve seen trees like this before.  On the Monrovia site you can find three variegated Cornus kousa; Samaritan, Wolf Eyes and Summer Fun, but they all have white flowers.  As the human race is constantly searching for the next new thing, now arrives the variegated dogwood with a Pink flower.  Dogwoods always look so spindly and minimal when they are young, but a mature dogwood can take your breath away.  It has to be in the top three for spring flowering trees.  Flowering cherries, Magnolias and Dogwoods.  Three reasons why spring is the best.  I’m looking forward to seeing how this one grows.  It has green leaves with white margins and mottled hues of green and white in several shades turn multi-colored in the fall — pink, yellow, purple and green simultaneously. Flowers are profuse, large and pink, covering the small tree in spring for several weeks. It is said to be highly pest and disease resistant. Grow in full sun in northern climates and part shade in warmer areas. Grows 10–15 tall and wide.

Marley’s Pink Snowbell (Styrax japonicus ‘JL Weeping’)  The world will never have enough snowbell trees, so I welcome any new varieties.  You may know that I have a thing for this tree.  I love a mature spreading canopy of a traditional Snowbell, but I”m intrigued with this new little one. Marley’s Pink Snowbell has a weeping habit, pink flowers and leaves that are significantly larger, glossier and less pubescent than other known cultivars. June flowers are vibrant pink and bell-shaped.  It grows up to 8 feet tall and 4–5 feet wide at maturity.  Out of these three new trees, this is the one I want!

Winchester Mugo Pine (Pinus mugo)  Another lovely little thing that I’m curious to see in its mature state.  There are an amazing variety of Pines and I think they provide an essential element to the garden. Green in winter, structural and a contrasting texture to broad leaf plants. This petite mugo seems to be bursting with life. ‘Winchester’ is a dwarf mugo pine chosen for its tidy, semi-upright form, which differs from other dwarf mugo cultivars. It maintains its dense body, making it suitable for small spaces. Tiny, short needles add year-round color and texture to the garden or container. Grows 3–4 inches annually, reaching a mature height of 2–3 feet in 10 years. Tolerates poor soils and dry conditions, as well as full or part sun.

 

New Variety—Avantgarde Hydrangea

 

Hydangea macrophylla 'Avantgarde'

Pruned to create one 7-9 inch bloom

 

Hydrangea macrophylla 'Avantgarde'

One plant with several blooms.

 

 

When this hydrangea is pruned to just one blossom it looks like a miniature tree covered in a thousand flowers.  Like a big poofy fluff ball, it almost seems fake, not like a real plant.  It is hard to imagine this puffy little thing out in the landscaping.  I think a wind would lift it up like a hot air balloon and it might sail across the Atlantic Ocean and settle itself in front of a patisserie.  ‘Je voudrais un chocolat chaud et un croissant, s’il vous plait.   Je vais voir les beaux jardins a Versailles et les vivant fleurs en le campagne. La vie est belle’   Avantgarde is from a French word that means innovative, pushing the boundaries of what is accepted, and I think this hydrangea does just that.  Besides speaking French, it grows up to 24″ tall and 18″ wide.  The stems are strong enough to support those magnificent flowers and the bloom can last for up to three months, changing color from white to pink or blue to green.  Vive le France.

 

Elaine’s Rose Tour 2015

It’s July and I’m surrounded by roses!  What could be better than to wake up in the morning with sunny yellow Julia Child or see the soft glow of Gourmet Popcorn in the evening?   Buds are opening, foliage is still fresh and it’s turning out to be a summer for roses!  I sprayed in early spring with a copper soap fungicide to keep black spot at bay, and it seems to be helping, along with our lack of rain and sunny days.  Usually by now black spot is creeping up the plants, starting with the lower and interior leaves.  This year I’m having just as much fun looking at the beautiful glossy green leaves as at the radiant blooms, they’re so healthy!  Here’s a look at some of my roses…

Julia Child Floribunda is the best!  I love her butter yellow blooms and all of the flowers that cover this shrub.  One year she was blooming into November and I have pictures of her dusted with snow. This rose seems to resist disease well and has a beautiful flower, starting deep rich yellow and fading to a lighter creamy yellow. Although only lightly scented, it’s delicious!

Julia Child RoseJulia Child Rose

Chicago Peace is another one of my favorites.  This hybrid tea rose is multi-colored in yellows and pinks, with a light rose scent.  It also changes, fading to lighter colors as the blossoms age.  I planted this rose in the spring and it started growing and by May there was lots of foliage, but no buds!  I kept waiting and none appeared, so I gave it a heavy pruning. cutting all the stems down by a third.  I also re-fertilized with an organic fertilizer.  And now, about six weeks later it’s covered in buds, happy day!  One of them is just opening today and I think I’ll set up some chairs next to it, invite some friends and celebrate this gorgeous rose.  Seriously, I just want to hang out with this rose, I like it so much.  I need to get my computer outside, because that’s really where I should be blogging….with the roses!

Chicago Peace Rose

Gourmet Popcorn Shrub rose has small leaves and flowers, but they open up in big clusters, covering the ends of the stems in a soft white.  The yellow centers give it the appearance of buttered popcorn, this is a fun rose, although it has little to no scent.  I like the difference in size from the other roses, small little ruffled flowers, upright and bright, make a nice contrast to some of the big heavy blooms of some nearby.

Gourmet Popcorn Rose

Sheer Magic Hybrid Tea rose is enchanting as it opens, revealing a delicate pink and white flower. My shrub has never had many blooms at once, usually just a handful at a time, then I deadhead and wait for new growth.  I”m hoping that now it’s in a new spot it will respond better and produce more flowers.  It doesn’t even have much of a scent, but as the bloom opens you’ll forget all about fragrance, because just looking at this flower is enough to fill up all your senses. Like a night in the forest, like the mountains in springtime, like a walk in the rain, like a storm in the desert, like a sleepy blue ocean!  Have you ever had something that you just want to stare at for a long time?  This rose is delicate and pure, the colors creamy and smooth, it’s enticing.

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Twilight Zone grandiflora rose is a fairly new introduction.  I love the big ruffled flowers, borne in clusters.  The color is a dark purple, described by Weeks Roses as ‘a deep velvet purple overlaid with a wisp of smoke’. I’m not sure that I’ve seen the smoke, but the velvety purple definitely!  Like the memorable television show, this rose gives you an unexpected twist with its ruffled deep purple flowers.

Twilight Zone Rose

Coretta Scott King grandiflora is another new rose, a cross between Moonstone and Hot Cocoa.  This is my first year with this beauty, so I haven’t spent as much time with her yet as the others.  I love the light colors that fade to dark as the flower opens.  Have you guessed that I’m addicted to multi-colored roses?  I can’t seem to get enough!

Coretta Scott King Rose

Coretta Scott King Rose

Tangerine Streams floribunda rose is another multi-colored beauty.  I’ve only had this one a year, but it seems to be blooming more abundantly this second year.  It has those delicious colors of apricot, salmon, pink and yellow that I love.

Tangerine Streams Rose

Oh My! floribunda is a classic deep red (although this picture looks pink…it’s not!).  It has clusters of flowers with very mild scent.  A rose with an exclamation point, wow! It must be something special! It must have static electricity! Oh My!

Oh My Rose

Easy Does It floribunda rose is exceptional.  I’ve had this one for years and it’s a non-stop bloomer as well as being covered in flowers.  It won the AARS award in 2010, well deserved!  I also like the disease resistance which is quite good.

Easy Does It Rose

Tess of the D’ Urbervilles English Rose is a David Austin climber.  This could be one of the best smelling roses in my garden, it’s heavenly.  The rich crimson flowers are lovely.  I bought it for the name alone, since I have a daughter named Tessa.  And since they are both so delightful I thought I would re-read the Thomas Hardy classic book this year, Tess of the D’ Urbervilles.  I’m telling you, stick with the rose, because I hate this book.  Except for the description of the dairy farm in the summer, it’s so dark and depressing and people die.  And Tess is such an idiot.  She needs to hang out with Oh My!

Tess of the D'Urbervilles Rose

 

And finally, Christopher Marlowe, my friend! This is another David Austin English rose with a dreamy tea rose fragrance.  This is a rescue rose from the nursery.  It was in the landscaping and was going to be dug out, so I decided to adopt it.  At the nursery it was largely ignored, never fertilized and rarely watered.  It put out one or two flowers a year and was quite unremarkable.  It’s new home is in a half barrel in potting soil and fertilizer and adequate water.  It’s going crazy!  I counted over 25 buds this month and I love it with the orange impatiens and pink begonias.  Christopher Marlowe, I’m glad we became acquainted!

Christopher Marlowe Rose

 

 

A few last minute additions! Dick Clark Grandiflora…No two flowers are alike.

 

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And Pope John Paul II, Clean, pure, white and fragrant.  Lovely.

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